LUMBERTON — Lowes Food will be closing after nearly 20 years of operation in Lumberton.
The store, which anchors the Lumberton Towne Centre strip mall at 5075 Fayetteville Road, will padlock on Dec. 23. The closing is because of low performance, according to Kimberly George, vice president of Communications and Corporate Citizenship at the store’s parent company, Alex Lee Inc.
“Unfortunately, it is one of our underperforming stores, so we made the decision to not renew the lease,” George said.
The store has a staff of 12 full-time and 34 part-time employees. Employees were told on Nov. 27 of the decision to close the store.
George said management is meeting with each employee individually to offer transfer opportunities. If it is geographically impractical to transfer, the company will provide financial assistance, she said.
The nearest locations are in Pinehurst and Southern Pines, which are both about 50 miles from Lumberton.
“Good business decisions are sometimes difficult decisions. We regret any impact this closing may have on our hosts (employees) and their families, and we can assure you that we will work with them to ease their transition,” a company statement reads in part.
Longtime customers were surprised to hear the news.
”I sure hate that it’s closing,” Bloise Surles said as she loaded groceries in her car.
Surles, who has been a frequent customer, said it will be difficult to picture it not being there.
“I’ve been going here for 10 years,” Surles said. “They just have stuff you can’t find in other stores.”
Heather Jacobs-Bowden, of Rex, said she utilizes every department in the store and will load up on items before the store closes. She appreciates the fresh food and quality of products.
“The florist is awesome here, too,” she said. “They always have great deals here.”
Lumberton resident Betty Jo Britt heard that the store was closing and was looking for a deal on Tuesday. She believes Lowes Food was too expensive for her and the Robeson County area.
“I don’t come here often, but if I can’t find something at other stores, I know I can find it here,” Britt said.
On Tuesday, Britt was looking for a specific pie crust for some holiday baking.
“They only have the kind that I like here,” Britt said.
The lease for the 49,543-square-foot store was first signed in November 1999. The store is one of 19 other businesses at the 122,992-square-foot strip mall. Other anchors are Burkes Outlet, CATO and Dollar Tree.
The mall is owned by The Regency Difference, a company based in Evansville, Ind. The company could not be reached for a comment on a potential tenant.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865